AIRC Update: Arizona Daily Star op-ed condemns Arizona Legislature’s lawsuit

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I posted about the filing of the latest GOP lawsuit assault on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) back in August, AIRC Update: Tea-Publican deadbeats sue the AIRC with your tax dollars to overturn Prop. 106 that created the AIRC.

Last Friday, the Arizona Legislature filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction and requested consolidation of the hearing with a trial on the merits. Steve Muratore at the Arizona Eagletarian blog posted a good summary. More GOP Legislative Contempt for Arizona Voters…:

Last Friday, attorneys acting on behalf of majority Republicans in the Arizona Legislature filed a brief asking a federal court to essentially immediately and permanently nullify the Congressional district map currently in use.

…Arizona State Legislature hereby moves this Court to preliminarily enjoin the enforcement of Article VI, part 2, section 1
of the Arizona Constitution insofar as it takes the power to establish
congressional districts away from the Legislature and conveys it to the
Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission; as well as the use of any
federal redistricting maps created by the Commission; and additionally
moves to consolidate the hearing on this motion with the trial on the
merits.

* * *

In explaining their rationale (as irrational as it may be), the GOP counsel states:

In 2000, a voter-generated referendum, Proposition 106 (hereinafter
“Prop. 106”), removed the Legislature’s constitutional role in that
process and granted it instead to the Arizona Independent Redistricting
Commission (hereinafter “IRC”), an unelected, nonrepresentative body.

"Voter-generated referendum" is the code they want to use to hide — or at least minimize — the fact that it was really an actual legislative act** conducted by citizen initiative.
Technically, yes, the citizens acting in a legislative capacity DID
relieve the Legislature of its role in redistricting. I've been over
that issue hundreds of times. Case law as cited in the AIRC briefs in this lawsuit makes it crystal clear.

I explained at length in my post above why the case of the Tea-Publican legislators seeking to overturn Prop. 106 in their contempt for the will of the voters is not supported by case precedent and is lacking in merit.

This lawsuit generated a rare editorial opinion today from the Arizona Daily Star which almost never expresses an opinion on a substantive issue any longer. Arizona Republicans need to change themselves, not legislative boundaries:

Republicans in the Legislature continued their shameless attack on
the Independent Redistricting Commission last week, this time asking a
federal court to take away the commission’s power to redraw
congressional districts just in time for the 2014 elections.

The
commission is already fighting three lawsuits — including one by the
Legislature — that seek to have the 2010 redistricting maps thrown out
on the grounds that … well, things didn’t go as well for Republican
candidates as they’d hoped.

* * *

Not chastened by the Arizona Supreme Court’s rebuke of their last
political stunt, their attempted removal of commission Chairwoman
Colleen Mathis, Republicans are willing to keep pushing the issue to
slant the playing field in their favor.

It is time they stopped
fighting the will of the people in court and concentrate on winning
elections the old-fashioned way: by offering up ideas and proposals
voters will support.

The Independent Redistricting Commission,
established through a ballot measure in 2000 that amended the state
constitution and took away redistricting power from the Legislature, is a
victim of its own success.

Its goals — to draw districts without
regard to political parties, following geographic and common-sense
boundaries and taking into account community interests — have clearly
irked the party in power.

The lawsuit backed by GOP lawmakers
argues voters had no legal authority to take their power to redraw
legislative district lines because the U.S. Constitution states that
authority rests with the Legislature. Their new effort on congressional
districts makes a similar argument.

As reported in the Star,
lawyers for the commission said the U.S. Supreme Court has been clear
that the power to redraw districts is not the exclusive domain of the
Legislature. Redistricting commissions in other states have faced
similar legal challenges and won.

Republican efforts are not only a
waste of time and energy — they also are a waste of money. The
commission spent more than $2 million last fiscal year defending itself
against suits. That’s $2 million in taxpayer money the Legislature
approved to fight itself.

While districts can never be completely equal, the redistricting
commission has done a good job of balancing the requirements it must
work under (see box). A quick look at the latest Arizona voter
registration report, which notes voters’ party affiliation, shows no
district has an insurmountable advantage for either party.

Looking
at congressional races since the commission was established, the
balance of power has fluctuated between Republicans and Democrats. These
shifts are as it should be. There should be no “safe district” for any
party if we hope to have lawmakers compromise for the good of all.

If Republicans look to their recent loses and want to reverse the trend, they should seek to change themselves, not the system.

The three lawsuits are:

Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission – the most recent case filed in U.S. District Court, discussed above.

Leach v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission – challenge to the congressional district maps, will go to trial in the Maricopa County Superior Court in early 2014.

Harris v. AIRC – challenge to the state legislative district maps, which has been fully briefed and awaiting the order of the U.S. District Court 3-judge panel.

One response to “AIRC Update: Arizona Daily Star op-ed condemns Arizona Legislature’s lawsuit

  1. Frances Perkins

    The people took away their god given right to create a everlasting, one party dictatorship, a la Assad, or even Putin, wouldn’t you be upset too? Who would’t want eternal Congressmen of the Trent Franks, J.D. Hayworth types. When they lose this one too, and piss away even more public money, maybe Biggs and Company will resort to chemical weapons.